Ohio Boasts 9,000 Green Jobs in Wind and Solar Power

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Rebuild the U.S. manufacturing sector through green technology? If you’re a pessimist, you may immediately respond, “Yeah, tell that to the Chinese”… and use this month’s news of Evergreen Solar moving its factory from Massachusetts to China as evidence. Yes, China’s got a healthy lead on the renewable energy manufacturing front, but all’s not glum on this side of the Atlantic.

Earlier this month, the Environmental Law & Policy Center released a report on the growth of renewable energy manufacturing in Ohio. Sure, the Buckeye State may not be the most well-established in terms of green tech, but the report lays out a unique mix of policy, history, and vision that have led to job growth in the wind and solar sector in Ohio.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about Ohio’s approach is that it focused on the supply chains for these technologies. While there are instances of companies in the state that assemble and install wind turbines and solar systems, much of the job growth has resulted from  production of components for these systems, a natural fit for a state with an established manufacturing infrastructure.

Companies like Cincinnati’s Cast-Fab Technologies, Inc. and Canton’s Timken have been able to make a relatively seamless entry into the renewable technologies market, and create jobs in the process. State investment in these jobs, as well as a renewable energy portfolio standard, have also contributed to job creation in this sector.

So, what kind of job growth are we talking about? On the one hand, the numbers look small on the surface: currently, there are 7,500 workers in the wind industry, and 1,500 in solar in Ohio. On the other, ELPC notes that “renewable energy is one of the fastest-growing business sectors for job creation” in the state, and that increasing demand for wind turbines puts Ohio behind only California in terms of job growth.

If the pundits and politicians are right, and a thriving manufacturing sector based in green technology is our best hope for sustained economic recovery, Ohio may turn out to be a model for Rust Belt states. Maybe making gears and bearings isn’t quite as sexy as building turbines and systems themselves, but it seems to be putting people to work in a state hard hit by both our recent economic woes, and the general decline of American manufacturing.

Know of similar stories around the US? Companies, or even regions, retooling for renewables? Let us know about them…

Jeff McIntire-Strasburg is the founder and editor of sustainablog, as well as green product mini-sites specializing in folding electric bicycles and organic Grade B maple syrup.

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3 Comments

  1. It is good to see that the renewable energy industry is really gaining traction in Ohio, both in terms of direct and indirect job creation. There are a lot of manufacturers in Northeast Ohio that are exploring getting into these supply chains, and there are also a number of small solar, wind, and geothermal providers here in the region. Unfortunately the Ohio Legislature did not extend the state tax credits for renewables this year, so the growth that the industry experienced in the past few years may falter somewhat. But there are other external forces, like Senate Bill 221 and its energy efficiency and renewables mandates, that will hopefully help to counteract that and keep the sector growing. Renewable manufacturing can and should be a boon for Ohio’s industrial base, so hopefully it continues.

    - Tim Kovach,
    Product Coordinator, Energy Programs at COSE

  2. Pingback: NEWSLETTER 19, January 26th 2011 | The Science Office at the French Consulate in San Francisco

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